Evidence for converting the “nymphaeum” into a place appropriate for Christian worship is the etching of crosses on the columns’ body. Can you find these marks at the courtyard of the Saint John the Baptist’s crypt?

01Basilica of Hagia Sophia

The well-known Church of St. Sophia is one of the most important monuments of the city. But beneath this great temple existed an older one. It was a basilica,Basilicas are public buildings which were used in the roman period as places where meetings, commercial transactions and courts were held. From the 4rth century A.D. the basilica form was adopted by Christians and served for several centuries as the main architectural type for churches in both the Eastern and the Western part of the empire. one of the largest of the early ChristianThe Palaeochristian period or early Christian period (4rth-7th century A.D.) begins with the founding of Constantinople by Constantine the Great in 330 A.D. and the transfer of the empire’s capital from Rome to there. period (115 meters long and 53 meters wide). Interestingly, the present church of St. Sophia follows the traces of the older one, using its walls. During the excavation period of 1961-1962 on Prigkipos Nikolaou 1 street (today Al. Svolou) a part of the niche of the sanctuary was unearthed, as well as parts of the thrones of the priests. The findings were impressive and kept in the basement of the building. The earlier basilica dates back to the 5th century A.D. Another part of it survives at the yard of the crypt of St. John the Baptist. The crypt was originally part of a Roman bath complex ("nymphaeum") that was converted into a baptistery for the needs of the original church. One of the pillars of the baptistery is still in place today.

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